Friday, August 13, 2010

My Research (So Far)

--We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming (aka the photographs) for a mini update on ongoing research efforts. We appreciate your patience and will return to showing off pictures ASAP--

Remember a little while ago when I introduced you to my research topic, the cultural associations of libraries and librarians? While I am still obviously looking for a better title for looking at libraries & their librarians through literature, film, and other cultural resources, I am pleased to say that I have been making a pleasant amount of progress in the actual research.
Right now I am in the stage where I am going through mounds of material (books, movies, you name it) and writing a lot of notes (over 10 typed pages so far) to see what general trends are out there in the portrayal of libraries and librarians. Some of these I have enjoyed thoroughly--check out "The Boy who was Raised by Librarians," "Bats at the Library," and "Delilah D. at the Library"-- and some not so thoroughly (I had to read a book called "The Dewey Decimal System of Love"). I'm still in the first 10 or 20 pages of a book called "This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians will Save Us All," because every time I begin reading I have to put it down and start taking notes, but otherwise I have managed to finish off over a dozen items.
A funny and somewhat ironic thing is that there were so many famous and/or classic movies I had yet to see that I will get the chance to view for the first time as a part of this project. This last week I saw for the very first time the 80s teen classic, "The Breakfast Club," which is set in a library. Up next on my list is "Desk Set," starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, in which Ms. Hepburn plays a librarian faced with the first library computers. My brothers are excited that I will also soon be viewing "The Mummy" action-adventure movies (because the main female character is a librarian). I'm excited because I once saw the clip where she accidentaly knocks the entire library's worth of bookshelves over, and I want to see it again and in context.
While I am discovering many great books and movies, I am also rediscovering a few favorites. The children's book "The Library Lion," the Ferris Beuler of librarian movies that's "Party Girl," the sci-fi/fantasy action movie series of "The Librarian" (where a geeky know-it-all goes out and saves the world). I'll endure a film that was once the favorite of a younger sibling, "The Pagemaster," and hopefully enjoy it a bit more this time around than I did then. I'm going to watch the opening scene of "Ghostbusters" at least once, not only for the ghost librarian who shushes and plays with the card catalogue, but also for such classic cinema lines as "Listen...Do you smell something?" I might even watch the reenactment by Improv Everywhere.
While it might seem like I have plenty to keep me busy (I have around 100 items to examine right now), please let me know if you think I'm missing something. I'd love to hear of anything to do with my research, and I know that I probably haven't found near everything out there in this subject area.
Now that I've told you what I've been looking through, let me tell you a little bit about what I've noticed so far:
--Library buildings, when shown in an illustration or described in the text, are very often made of stone.
--While we all know and love or loathe the stern, shushing librarian of yesteryear--you know, the one that's older than the card catalogue and just as hard to figure out--depictions of librarians from the last few years tend to portray them as being perky, smart  people who often have a touch of whimsy, even if they're still firm about not running or yelling in the library.
--On the other hand, some people evidently think that since librarians are quiet people, they must be repressing something.
--Libraries are a fun place to be
--Books are the key to a young person's future
--Libraries can be crazy enough the librarian wishes that he/she was an astronaut
--Libraries tend to be portrayed as either sedately colored in neutral shades (grey, tan, etc.) or very bright colors (red, blue, yellow, green and orange in a single space). The different color palettes tend to parallel what type of library it is, and who is meant to occupy the space.
--Drifters or loners can often find their home and a supporting family of friends at the library.
--If it's a public library, there's probably a copying machine (and if the copying machine's part of the story, it's probably not paper materials that are being copied).

Again, if you know of something applicable in any way, shape, or form, please tell me about it!

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